The Netherlands / Audiospot

A fatal delay

DestructionFightingLiberationVictory and defeat




Valkenswaard is liberated on September 17. The village has suffered a great deal under allied bombardments and air raids. Many houses are on fire and there are many deaths to be regretted. But the people of Valkenswaard greet their liberators with great enthusiasm. It is already evening and the British decide to spend the night in Valkenswaard. In light of the further course of Operation Market Garden, this may prove to be a fatal delay.

Due to fighting earlier in the day, the British didn’t arrive at Valkenswaard until half past seven in the evening of September 17 1944. It was decided to spend the night there. Valkenswaard had suffered heavy shelling and there were many deaths. Nevertheless, the liberators were greeted with great enthusiasm.

It has never become clear why the advance did not continue on to Eindhoven. Perhaps it was thought the troops deserved a rest after the battle earlier in the day. Or it was considered too risky to continue to advance in the dark. Perhaps the organisation of the British army was not as flexible as that of the German Wehrmacht. The Germans were capable of forming new combat units from various disintegrated armies. These were capable of carrying out lightning quick attacks against the advancing Allies. Later, it transpired that the delay in Valkenswaard had a major negative impact on the course of Operation Market Garden.

Markt, Valkenswaard